Vermont HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Vermont
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Most states require training and licensure before you can legally design, install, repair, and maintain heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. As today’s technology for HVAC systems becomes increasingly complex, and we place more emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, HVAC-R systems need retrofitting, upgrading, or replacement to remain compliant.
Learning this essential trade takes years, but once you complete the necessary training, your skills will be in high demand in the home services and construction industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 394,100 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and 900 work in Vermont. The BLS predicts employment to grow 5% from 2021 to 2031 nationwide, adding more than 20,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks, and 5% in Vermont too according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor's job search website. Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR professionals. In fact, 60% of firms in the United States had unfilled hourly craft positions, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey. So, if you get the training you need you should have a variety of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
Licensing requirements for HVAC workers and technicians vary widely from state to state. In Vermont, there are no specific HVAC contractor license requirements, but the state licenses HVAC technicians and contractors as specialty electricians. Read on to learn more about becoming an HVAC tech in The Green Mountain State.
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License Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Vermont
Is a state level license required to perform HVAC work in Vermont? No, but Vermont offers an Electrical Specialist (ES) license for HVAC contractors and technicians wishing to obtain licensure in specialty areas.
The three largest cities in Vermont — Burlington, South Burlington and Essex — do not require HVAC licensing to work on the local level, but may require permits. It’s always best to check with the local jurisdictions in advance.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Vermont
The Electrical Specialist (ES) license for HVAC contractors can be obtained through the Vermont Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety. The ES license types available for HVAC contractors fall into two classification options:
Automatic Gas/Oil Heating (A1): required for any individual who installs or services HVAC units with propane, natural gas, or oil, such as gas furnaces or oil burners.
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (C3): required for any individual who installs or services units with refrigeration or air conditioning.
It’s also important to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under section 608 of the Clean Air Act, requires any technician who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere to earn a Section 608 technician certification. HVAC apprentices don’t need to hold a certification as long as “they are closely and continually supervised by a certified technician,” according to the EPA.
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How to Become an HVAC Professional in Vermont
The Electrical Specialist (ES) license with classification options of Automatic Gas/Oil Heating (A1) or Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (C3) can be satisfied in one of two ways:
Provide proof of completing a certified HVAC training program and proof of one year (2,000 hours) of specialty work experience in the HVAC industry.
Provide proof of at least two years (4,000 hours) of on-the-job experience in the HVAC field.
HVAC technicians may obtain a Type S C3 (Refrigeration or Air Conditioning) credential. Before applying for a specific HVAC position, check to see whether it requires specific licensure or credentials to qualify.
Before applying for any specialty license, you must pass a background check with the State of Vermont. You can apply for the ES specialty licenses simultaneously.
The ES license differs from the general electrician's license, in that you don’t need to complete a four-year journeyman training program to become an HVAC contractor.
Upon completing the requirements for an ES license, you can submit an application form to the Vermont Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety. The application fee is $115 per specialty license.
Once you submit the application and pass a background check, you are eligible to take the licensing exam either online or in person at a regional exam center. Licensing exams are administered by third parties, such as:
Once you pass the licensing exam and meet state licensing requirements by the licensing board, you can start building your career as an HVAC contractor by building your own small business or working for an established HVAC company.
EPA Certification for Vermont and Beyond
Across the U.S., EPA regulations under EPA Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require certification for technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere. Any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing air-conditioning systems needs to hold the certification.
In most cases, your employer will require you to obtain the certification as part of your training program.
Type I: for servicing small appliances containing five pounds of refrigerant or less.
Type II: for servicing high-pressure units that contain five pounds or more of refrigerant (including most small commercial and residential systems).
Type III: for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances.
Universal: for servicing all systems and appliances covered under Types I, II, and III.
For all certifications, you must pass the EPA certification exam. It covers the following topics:
Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol
EPA Section 608 regulations
Substitute refrigerants and oils
The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim)
National HVAC Certifications
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. The North American Technical Excellence (NATE) certification, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) certification and other professional certifications can add to your marketability and increase your opportunity to make more money.
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License in Vermont?
In Vermont, the Electrical Specialist (ES) license with classification options for Automatic Gas/Oil Heating (A1) or Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (C3) can be completed with a combination of HVAC training and coursework in an approved school, and 2,000 hours (one year) of work in an apprenticeship program.
HVAC training programs offered by approved schools in Vermont take one to two years to complete, depending on the program.
The other alternative for obtaining an ES license in the A1 or C3 classifications requires at least two years of work experience (4,000 hours).
Both options require candidates to apply to the Vermont Department of Public Safety Division of Fire Safety and pass a licensing exam.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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Required forms that ensure every job is done right, driving consistency.
The ability to build multi-option proposals with photos, on-site, in minutes.
Sales presentations that make conversations with customers easier and drive average ticket.
Mobile payment acceptance, eliminating lost checks and increasing cash flow.
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How Much Does It Cost to Become an HVAC Technician in Vermont?
How you get started will determine your upfront costs. If you figure out this is your intended path while you’re still in high school, you can begin free of charge as a student through the Career Technical Education System. There are CTE programs offered in HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing and many other skill based professions. Since Vermont does not require classroom training, you only need to meet employer expectations and some may be willing to train you strictly on the job. However, the most common first step to an entry level job in the HVAC field in Vermont is completing a recognized HVAC training program. There are several offered in the Green Mountain State. Vermont Technical College offers two degree programs for students interested in HVAC system design and engineering. The first is an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in architectural and building engineering technology that takes two years and is 65 credits. The second is a bachelor of science (BS) degree in architectural engineering technology which takes four years and is 124 credits. Estimated Tuition is $613 per credit. If you find an employer that is willing to sponsor you in an HVAC or electrical specialty apprenticeship, you can get the required classroom instruction through Vermont Technical College at no cost to apprentices through Vermont Department of Labor grant funding. If you begin by looking for an HVAC Apprentice position through job sites like ZipRecruiter or indeed it won’t cost you anything, but again employers often prefer someone with some HVAC education. The cost to take the EPA Section 608 Certification Examination can be as low as $20 for the Type I exam and upwards of $150 for the Universal Exam, but that is typically included in an apprentice or college training program. For the required Electrical Specialist (ES) license you’ll need to pay either $65 or $100 for one of the two acceptable tests and $115 for the application fee.
Benefits of Becoming an HVAC Professional in Vermont
There are many benefits of working in the HVAC field in Vermont:
The lack of statewide licensing means you need only to meet employer expectations and get federal EPA certification if you will be handling refrigerant.
You will earn as you learn with a guarantee of pay increases as you develop new skills.
The EPA and other certifications you earn over your years of experience are proof of your knowledge and expertise.
Being a skilled tradesman gives you a competitive advantage and job security.You will be embarking on a career, not just doing a job.
You can eventually own your own business and be your own boss.
What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Professional in Vermont?
The annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Vermont is $55,220, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, according to Indeed.com, the average salary for HVAC professionals in Vermont increases with experience and training.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $32.30 per hour in Vermont and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $38.60 per hour in Vermont.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $23.84 per hour in Vermont and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base wage for an HVAC Supervisor is $65,395 per year in Vermont.
Pay ranges can vary widely, depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
Vermont HVAC Training Programs and Trade Schools
There are two main organizations that accredit HVAC programs, schools, and apprenticeships nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).
There are no HVAC Excellence- or or PAHRA-accredited programs in Vermont, but programs can be found in surrounding states, such as:
Your specialty license expires after three years, at which time you will receive a notice from the licensing board. To renew a specialty license, you must provide proof of completing at least eight hours of continuing education at an approved training program, and up to 15 hours of continuing education if you hold a license in more than one specialty.
Does My Vermont HVAC License Work in Any Other States?
No. Because Vermont requires electrical and gas/oil specialty licenses, it doesn’t allow any reciprocity agreements with other states.
Additional Resources for Vermont HVAC Techs
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways: